There’s a lot to think about when it comes to raising goats. One crucial consideration is vaccinating your goats against common diseases. Here we’ll discuss some of the most important goat vaccines and when they should be administered.
By knowing what to expect, you can better care for your herd and keep them healthy!
What Are the Most Important Goat Vaccines?
There are a few vaccines that are universally recommended for goats. We’ll give you some more information about these goat vaccines below!
CDT Vaccine for Goats
Without a doubt, the CDT vaccine is the most important one to give your goats. It is a combined vaccine that protects goats against Clostridium perfringens types C and D along with tetanus.
Clostridial organisms grow rapidly in a goat, causing a variety of problems including bloody scours in suckling kids.
These can be caused by changes in feed or too much milk. These vaccinations can also help to prevent issues like pulpy kidney disease and enterotoxemia.
Other clostridial diseases that are prevented by this vaccine include blackleg, big head, and malignant edema.
CDT is also a critical vaccine if you plan on doing any tail docking or castrating, which is when tetanus infections are more likely.
Ideally, a pregnant doe should receive the vaccine about 30 days before birth. This will provide her with a booster and keep her kids protected too since they’ll receive immunity via colostrum once they are born.
Later, the kids should be vaccinated again (at around five to six weeks of age). They should get a booster a few weeks later and then be boosted once a year.
This is more often than if you need to vaccinate other animals that get the CDT vaccination, namely, sheep. Sheep have a longer-lasting immunity toward clostridia and don’t need to be vaccinated as often.
Goat Rabies Vaccine
In areas where rabies is endemic, goats should also be vaccinated for rabies. This vaccination can be administered to kids that are older than three months of age. You’ll give a booster each year.
Although this vaccine is not really necessary unless you live in an area where rabies is a major concern, it’s still a good one to administer if you plan on grazing your goats on public lands or having them attend livestock shows.
Q Fever Vaccine for Goats
Q Fever, also known as Coxiella burnetii, causes sickness in both animals and humans. In small ruminants, it can cause dead or weak kids.
This inactivated vaccine can prevent abortions in goats and reduce bacterial shedding, reducing the likelihood that the disease will spread to other animals.
You should administer this vaccination in two doses at least three weeks before breeding with booster shots given in areas where this disease is common.
Goat Pox Vaccine
Goat pox is not an overly common disease, so this is a vaccine you can likely skip unless you live in Asia, the Middle East, or North Africa.
There have also been small, localized outbreaks in Europe, but the disease has not yet been detected in the United States.
This disease causes lung lesions and skin lesions in small ruminants like goats. The vaccination provides protection for up to 30 months, depending on which strain is used.
A significant cause of abortion in goats, this bacterial agent can also cause infertility and epididymitis in males.
An oral vaccine, can’t be used on pregnant animals but can be administered prior to breeding.
Bluetongue Goat Vaccine
Bluetongue can affect all kinds of ruminants, including cattle, buffalo, antelope, sheep, deer, and goats. You might not even realize your goats are infected since it’s usually a minor disease in goats.
However, it can be fatal in sheep, so it’s important to vaccinate if you have a mixed farm.
You can use both live or attenuated vaccines. Most protect for around one year.
Soremouth, also known as a scabby mouth, is a skin disease that is most prevalent in wounds around the mouth.
The wounds and scabs make it difficult for a kid to suckle and the infection can easily spread to the doe, causing mastitis.
This vaccine is unique since it’s obtained and formulated from the scabs of affected animals. It contains a live, virulent virus.
You can give kids a vaccine when they are around a month of age, with a booster three months later. This is a vaccine that is meant to brush onto the skin or even onto a scratch or wound.
You can also vaccinate prior to kidding. Once you’ve vaccinated an animal, keep it away from unvaccinated animals until the scabs have fallen off.
It’s also important to note that this is a zoonotic disease that can cause infections in humans. Be careful when administering the vaccine and wear appropriate protective gear, like gloves.
Don’t administer the vaccine unless you’ve had a problem with a sore mouth in the past – if you haven’t, there’s no reason to introduce the virus to the herd.
Caseous Lymphadenitis Goat Vaccine
This disease is caused by bacteria and can lead to chronic wasting disease. It usually occurs when the skin is infected by a wound, often due to poor hygiene during clipping and shearing.
Caseous lymphadenitis is frustrating for goat farmers to deal with because I can live in the environment for months, even up to a year.
You can administer a vaccine but make sure it’s species-specific, as some adverse reactions have been noted in goats that were given the sheep-specific vaccine.
Talk to your vet if you’re interested in a CL vaccination. That’s because some that are licensed for sheep have caused serious side effects in goats, particularly those that were sick, old, weak, or immunocompromised. Don’t use this vaccine off-label without talking to your vet.
Goat Vaccine for Footrot
Footrot is a serious problem in both the goat and sheep industries. It is a painful infection that occurs between the digits on the foot and can often lead to lameness. Bacteria, most notably Dichelobacter nodosus cause it.
If an animal suffers from footrot, it usually needs to be treated aggressively or culled. Goats can be vaccinated against footrot, ideally with a vaccine that contains antigens of all serogroups leading to footrot.
Most vaccines last for up to 16 weeks, depending on the varieties included. Since footrot is a seasonal disease that is more common when goats are standing in mud and water for long periods.
It’s a good idea to give the vaccine about four months before the start of the wet season. Since the vaccine’s immunity wanes quickly, you’ll need to give boosters about once every six months.
It is important to note that footrot vaccines do not prevent the disease from occurring but instead control the problem if used with other good management techniques, like foot trimming, soaking feet, and culling chronically infected animals.
This disease can cause lamb deaths, renal damage, and abortions. There are several types of bacteria that cause this disease, with vaccines offering protection for several months.
This vaccination is meant to be given to healthy goats to prevent pasteurellosis. This is a disease caused by two kinds of bacteria – Mannheimia haemolytica and Pastereurella multocida.
You can give a dose to kids under 3 months old, then revaccinate at four to six months old.
Pasteruella multocida often leads to bacterial pneumonia, or bronchopneumonia, in goats of all ages. It can be more common in goat kids that did not receive adequate colostrum.
Although these bacteria tend to be naturally occurring in the environment, they don’t bother goats unless there are other stressors present (for example, again, if the kid didn’t receive adequate colostrum).
Pneumonia is also more common in animals that were overcrowded or recently moved. Adverse weather conditions can cause an outbreak, too.
You can administer these vaccines when animals are young, usually as early as 10 days of age if they did not receive antibodies through their mothers’ milk.
Chlamydia and Toxoplasmosis Vaccines
Both chlamydia and toxoplasmosis are microorganisms that can cause abortions in goats. You can vaccinate for these if the disease gets in the herd – otherwise, don’t bother introducing it.
If you use a vaccine, you’ll give a booster each year, about three weeks before the start of the breeding season.
You can protect against other abortive diseases through antibiotics (like chlortetracycline) or CTC that’s added to the feed.
Again, consult a veterinarian to figure out the proper medications, the right doses, and the proper timing.
How Often Should You Vaccinate Goats?
There’s no set vaccination schedule for goats – instead, look at the instructions for the specific kind of medication you plan on administering.
For CDT, goats should be vaccinated on an annual basis. Does need to be vaccinated about 30 days before giving birth.
If the doe was not given a booster of two shots at some point, it’s important to note that this pre-kidding shot each year won’t be as effective.
Kids need to be vaccinated at five to six weeks of age, then again three to four weeks later.
Breeding bucks and other adult goats will receive annual boosters about 30 days prior to the start of the breeding history.
If you buy new goats and aren’t sure what their vaccination history has been, give them two doses to start with, each three to six weeks apart, and then a booster each year.
Tips for Giving Vaccinations to Goats
Now that you know which vaccinations your goats need, here are a few tips for administering them.
First, make sure you keep detailed records. This is especially important if you have a large flock with lots of goats.
While you might think you’ll be able to remember which goats received which shots and when, it is very easy to forget, especially over multiple years.
Watch out for adverse reactions to the vaccines.
If you’re vaccinating a show animal, you shouldn’t do it right before an exhibition because there might be minor injection site lesions, like blemishes, which can reduce your overall score or disqualify your animals.
Don’t administer vaccines over the hindquarters or loins, if you’re raising meat animals since this is where the most valuable meat cuts are located.
When giving a vaccination, make sure you restrain the animal to minimize struggling and make sure the vaccine is properly administered at the right dose.
Don’t use excessively long needles (those over half an inch are too long) and change the needle with every animal.
The needle that you use to withdraw the vaccine from the bottle should not be the same one you use to inject the goat, since this can lead to cross-contamination.
Most vaccines are injected beneath the skin, on the side of the neck. This is known as a subcutaneous injection.
If your vaccine freezes, throw it away. Keep medications in a container out of the reach of children, ideally in the refrigerator.
Read the instructions on your vaccine carefully, even if it’s the same medication type. Medications from different brands often have different results.
Finally, remember to always use sterile needles and syringes. Don’t reuse the same needle on multiple goats, as this is a surefire way to spread infections among your flock.
Finally, avoid administering multiple vaccinations all on the same day, especially with heavily pregnant does. This can be extremely stressful.
Where to Buy Goat Vaccinations
You can get most goat vaccinations from a veterinarian. Some may require a prescription. Others, like the CDT vaccination, do not require a prescription and can be purchased over the counter by the division of a livestock supply store like Tractor Supply.
You can also buy any of the needles, syringes, and other supplies you need here.
Some vaccinations can even be purchased online and shipped directly to your farm. Again, some may require a prescription from a veterinarian, so be sure to read all of the fine print carefully before you buy.
As you can see, there are many factors to consider when choosing a goat vaccine. By following these tips, you’ll be able to choose the right vaccine for your herd and keep them healthy and productive.
Have you had success with any of these vaccines? Let us know in your comments.